A Return to the Night
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been nocturnal. Even during the periods of my life where I tried desperately not to be nocturnal in order to avoid being zombie-fied in my day job. Didn’t work.
During the two years of my life where I churned out two biographies in quick succession, my abiding memory is tapping away on my keyboard, feeling cocooned by the silence of those deep nighttime hours. That time of night when it feels as if the rest of the world has ceased to exist. During those hours, the air seemed almost thick and magnetic—as if rather than typing words, I was actually plucking thoughts and visages from the atmosphere, and transmuting them through my keyboard. In those moments, I was simultaneously more wholly present than I could ever be under normal circumstances, and also somehow ceased to exist. Instead of just being me, I was a part of something else. Something bigger. Something magic.
As the darkness started to give, I would step out into the still-quiet world to grab Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin from Dunkin’ or a grande at Starbucks. I would sit with my laptop and read through what had poured out of me the night before, watching as the trickle of people gave way to a cascade, and the magic of the night seeped away.
Then it was time to sleep.
Over the past few years, I started to turn away from the night. Daily life felt like it was no longer my own, and it was exhausting. Sleep was an escape. And, then, when Izzy first came along, the nighttime came back to me in a totally different way. It was me and my little bundle, and the hours were meaninglesss, dictated solely by her little clock, and what she needed, regardless of the hour. It was quiet and beautiful. Magical in its own way.
Then my little bundle turned into a bigger, more active bundle. It was just Izzy and me, so why not keep her sweet, warm body next to me in this big bed, where there was plenty of room?
Before long, I realized my little bundle required 9/10s of the bed. And enjoyed intermittently kicking me in the ribs with surprising force. And waking up a couple of times per night. Then we reached a point where she could crawl right on off the bed if I wasn’t watching, which meant a 7:00 p.m. bedtime for both of us. Izzy and I spent a lot of time in bed for a few weeks there but, for me, sleep had never been in shorter supply. And these couldn’t be productive hours, since she liked to sleep on top of me.
So, I sleep trained Izzy in her own crib, in her own room. To be honest, it really only took a couple of nights. But listening to your baby cry out for you and not responding is a special kind of hell. Those couple of nights felt like a horrible, entire era of life.
But, the payoff! The payoff has been monumental. First of all, it turns out my tiny kickboxer wasn’t sleeping well either. It’s clear that she’s one happy, well-rested little camper right now. And it also turns out she loves to sleep! Like, loooooooves to sleep twelve or thirteen hours at a time!
For me, this means that the night is mine again from 7:00 p.m. on. It is beyond glorious. I feel like a got a piece of me back. Time to write, time to work, time to read, time to dream, time to be.
As I read through that last paragraph, I realize I've referenced “getting pieces of me back” a lot lately. I guess, in the end, that’s what these past several months have been about. Collecting the old pieces, fusing them with the new, and creating something that might look the same at a glance, but is actually quite different.